Although I must admit that the 1001 guide does tend to list down way too many war novels for its own good, I can at least say that there’s always a different perspective and in The Twins there’s definitely an interesting one.
Lotte and Anna are identical twins who are separated when they are six years old (it is the 1930’s) and other than one disastrous chance encounter in their teens they never remained in contact with each other.
That is until they meet at a spa in Belgium over 50 years later.
Naturally this gives the twins a chance to catch up on what has happened during their separation and each has a unique story.
Lotte went off to live in the Netherlands , which was a supposedly neutral country during the war, although the Jewish persecution takes place. Despite the fact that her lover is arrested and killed in Auschwitz, Lotte herself leads a comfortable life with few restrictions and her family smuggle Jews into their house. However she is angry at Germany for the loss of her boyfriend and lack of freedom.
Anna, on the other hand stays in Germany and goes through many disappointments. Her foster family treat her badly. Hitler’s reign is preventing her to express herself and when she finally does meet and marry a soldier (who joins the SS so he can stay close to her) he dies in a bombing and Anna devotes the rest of the war period to helping injured soldiers. Although she has suffered she makes it clear that not all Germans were cruel heartless killing machines as history tells us. Lotte refuses to believe this, until the last few pages when she accepts her sister’s personal history.
De Loo did do her research on this novel about wartime Germany and she does mention the horrors but through Anna we see that Germans were had a hard time living a normal life during the war and despite being the Aryan race, still were no different from other Europeans during this tumultuous period.
Personally I liked the novel but I did find it a bit dragging at times and the passages dealing with the American ‘invasion’ of post-war Germany a bit exaggerated ( Although Lotte does bring things back down to Earth a wee bit) Still though The Twins does pose a lot of ethical questions and sheds light on some of history’s misconception’s. What do you out there think?